Charleston's Very First Department Store


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The store started as a hole-in-the-wall on Capitol Street at the turn of the Century.  Before long the three investors opened a large, first of it's kind store on Quarrier & Dickinson Streets.  Called a "Department Store" they claimed it to be "50 stores in one".  It was the Diamond Department Store of its day.  Interesting too,  that it was located in an "outlying" area.  You see, most all businesses were on Kanawha Street (now Kanawha Blvd) and a block down Summers and Capitol.  A few stores then started building towards Quarrier St,  but Charleston's first department store was out in the boonies, all the way up to Dickinson Street!   And check out that wicked sign. I still havent figured that out, but it's just unusual enough to be very cool for 1911!






Charlestons first Department Store

Before long, by 1911 the store covered the entire block between Dickinson and Hale Streets. One of the interesting aspects of this store was that it had an early Kroger food store inside. At that time, Kroger wasnt a stand alone food market here, but simply just another department within the main store.  In other words, Kroger played second fiddle to Warwick, Barrett & Shipley.  This was the only Kroger store in our entire area.  The original building still stands today, while the left side (which was actually another building) has been removed, and years later the Blossom Dairy was built on that spot.







Charlestons first Department Store




But, like all companies that grow too fast.....

Trouble started when Mr Warwick and Mr Barrett left the company.  It's unknown why, or what other issues caused the closure.

Charlestons first Department Store
Within two years, the company was in default.



Charlestons first Department Store





But Shipley went-on to become President of one of the largest stores in the world at that time in NYC.

Charlestons first Department Store
There was a fire in the building years later.   Interesting side note: Part of the building housed the Biltmore Hotel

Charlestons first Department Store




Charlestons first Department Store

The Davidson Building today.






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